Useful information for foreign tourists who are sightseeing in Sapporo: Cold water and paying the bill at restaurants

Cold water & moistened hand towels

At some restaurants in Japan, after you are seated, a person from the establishment will bring you cold water (“ohiya” in Japanese) to drink and an “oshibori,” a moistened hand towel used to wipe your hands. These are both free of charge, and leaving a tip is unnecessary. Part of a restaurant’s hospitality is to provide a moistened hand towel for you to wipe your hands and leave you feeling refreshed, so that you can then enjoy your meal.

Paying your bill at restaurants

When paying for your meal, bring the check from your table to the cash register. If you cannot find your check, ask a nearby staff member. Your check may already be prepared at the cash register, or you may be able to pay your bill at the table. Some establishments do not accept credit cards, so it is always a good rule of thumb to come prepared with cash. If you are satisfied with the exceptional service, instead of leaving a tip (as tips are not a custom in Japan), please express your satisfaction to the staff on your way out.